Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh. And also, get off my lawn.

Apparently, somewhere in Ohio there's a single solitary mope so feeble-minded to as yet have no presidential preference. That's the vote they're going to spend a combined $1 billion to influence. It's like betting big bucks on where a chicken will crap. Me, I voted already. I got a little sticker that says “I voted early.” Shouldn't I now be exempt from campaign coverage? Seriously, this is like having all the news you want to read or hear preempted by nonstop professional wrestling. Not actual matches. Just the parts where fat guys grab the mike and shout themselves hoarse.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breathe Easy

William Fisk of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has studied the effect of CO2 levels on cognition. Outdoors, normal carbon dioxide levels are 350 to 400 parts-per-million (PPM). Indoors, 600 PPM is considered excellent, and 1,000 is normal. Fisk gave his subjects a bunch of cognitive tests in increasing CO2 concentrations. And the more carbon dioxide they breathed, the dumber they got. 1,000 PPM was bad enough, but up around 2,500 they got positively moronic, basically incapable of rational thought. Thank goodness you only get levels like that when folks are jammed together in a board room or legislative chamber.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scaling the heights

Dang. This guy takes a balloon higher than anybody ever, then jumps off. Here's one way to visualize the distance he covered. Imagine you're so vast that to you the world looks the size of a basketball. You're hovering there in space next to Basketball Earth, and maybe 8 yards away hangs a baseball-sized gray stone: the Moon. If you lean way in, your vast, cool, and unsympathetic eye can detect satellites in low-Earth orbit, about one centimeter from the surface. And from this perspective, Felix Baumgartner dove from a height of around one millimeter, 39 thousandths of an inch.

Monday, October 8, 2012


As I age I'm going to be cranky and weird; the years won't change me. Remember those rock 'n' roll movies where the parents were dead set against this scandalous new music until some greasy but essentially good-hearted lad saved a whole school bus full of puppies or something and then Mom and Pop sanctioned a record hop right in their living room, bringing in plates of cookies and pitchers of lemonade and even joining in with their own ludicrous attempt at doin' the jerk or the twist as the kids all chuckled and the credits rolled? Anything but that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Popcorn Mackerel

Science! It seems that as ocean temperatures rise, the size of fish diminishes. It has to do with oxygen levels, body temperature, and metabolic rates. That's from research led by Dr William Cheung from the University of British Columbia. It seems global warming causes existing fish species to grow drastically smaller than we're used to. Dr. Cheung also writes that the resulting midget fish may have trouble reproducing, with devastating results for the world's fisheries. The good news is, who wouldn't want to open a little can of whole tarpons, or get a bunch of teensy sturgeon on their pizza?